With the rival San Francisco Giants taking home their second world title in three seasons, they have officially separated themselves in the rivalry, taking a one-title and one-pennant lead over the Dodgers.
Fear not, Dodger fans. There is already chatter of trades, signings and additions being in the works for the Dodgers that would make them the favorites to upset San Francisco and win the NL West in 2013.
Read on for the most recent offseason chatter coming from GM Ned Colletti's office.
Coming into the offseason, the Dodgers had just three players with team options. They decided to decline all three, to nobody's surprise.
Juan Rivera held a $4 million option and was bought out for $500,000. Backup catcher Matt Treanor's $950,000 option was declined in favor of a $150,000 buyout, and Todd Coffey's $2.5 million option was bought out for $300,000.
None of those players will be sorely missed; Coffey was always injured and the Dodgers have improved the bullpen in his absence, making him expendable. Rivera regressed in Los Angeles last year, becoming mostly a pinch-hitting presence, and a non-intimidating one at that.
And while Treanor did an admirable job backing up A.J. Ellis last season, the Dodgers can get the same production more cheaply, maybe in the form of prospect Tim Federowicz.
As I mentioned in the last slide, the Dodgers made moves to shore up the bullpen midseason, and now they are paying the man who became the closer in Kenley Jansen's absence.
On Tuesday, the Dodgers signed Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5 million deal with an option for 2016. Ned Colletti was quoted as saying he signed League back with the intent that he would be the full-time closer (via Mark Saxon of ESPN).
For Jansen, that means he will be back in the setup role after recovering from heart surgery. Yes, Jansen is an injury risk, but I'll take that devastating cutter all day over a closer with a track record of blowing it in the ninth inning.
Don't get me wrong—I wanted League back in 2013. But giving him that much money and entrusting such an important job to a closer who has been mediocre in the past seems a little bit crazy.
Besides the fact that it would be a heaping waste of money for a position the Dodgers don't necessarily need help at, A-Rod is injury-prone and allergic to clutch situations. I'd be shocked to see Colletti pull the trigger on such a silly move.
Sure, the guy spent $21 million on Juan Uribe a few years ago and has made other questionable decisions in the past. But none would be as monumentally stupid as giving the world to A-Rod when the Hanley Ramirez/Luis Cruz/Dee Gordon combination on the left side of the infield will be more than satisfactory.
Don't act so surprised. The Dodgers made it known they would be aggressive in the free-agent market this winter, and with the need for pitching getting urgent, I'd be surprised to see them not make a play at a few free-agent arms.
So far, we know that Colletti has "shown interest" in bringing back Randy Choate (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register) as a lefty specialist in 2013, as well as getting Jamey Wright back on the roster. Also, the Dodgers have openly shown interest (Associated Press, via ESPN) in 18-year-old Japanese free agent Shohei Otani.
Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. And my guess is that the Dodgers will attempt to make a move for Dan Haren if the Angels decline his option, or even explore the possibility of bringing back an old friend in Hiroki Kuroda.
It's my belief that Choate and Wright should definitely be brought back for a couple more seasons out of the pen, and I'd love to see them get back into the Japanese free agency game. I'd stay away from Haren unless he's the only option, but would definitely like to see Kuroda return to Los Angeles.
It's no secret that the Dodgers are in need of another ace-like starter to pair with Clayton Kershaw. The question of who they want it to be is no longer a secret, as news broke yesterday that the team has made Rays' starter James Shields its No. 1 priority this winter (via Mark Saxon of ESPN).
The Rays picked up his option already, but are willing to listen to trade talks, and the Dodgers would be wise to make an offer. The minor league talent pool is pretty thin, but the Dodgers could definitely use a power right-handed arm to put in the No. 2 spot in the rotation.
In order to get Shields, the Dodgers would have to make a pretty strong offer and probably take on all of the salary, but it would be a great investment to shore up a shaky rotation. If that doesn't pan out, Colletti could look back to Miami and see if the asking price for Marlins' ace Josh Johnson has lowered.
Don't worry, Dodger fans. The absurd rumor that ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted out recently about the Dodgers "being willing" to move Andre Ethier was immediately shot down. Ethier and his insane clutch gene is sticking around for a while.
But could a couple starting pitchers be on the block? If the Dodgers are serious about bringing in a James Shields or Dan Haren, someone has to go. Right now, the rotation is set with Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and probably Stephen Fife.
The depth chart will look a different in spring training, but who gets the boot if the Dodgers bring in a starting arm or two? And what if Chad Billingsley is good to go by Opening Day? Chances are Harang, Capuano, Ted Lilly and Beckett would be on the block.
I like Beckett and what he brings to this rotation. I think he needs to stick around, regardless. And as much as I enjoyed Capuano's success in his first season as a Dodger, I'd be fine with shipping the southpaw away for the right price.
Harang is a great fifth starter, but he's a fifth starter. I'd prefer to move Capuano or Lilly first, then Harang, and Beckett if we absolutely had to. Time will tell, but I'm sure Colletti has some kind of deal up his sleeve that will have the pitching staff looking a little different and a lot better come 2013.